79 IN TROUBLE

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Election
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74 NGE candidates fail to submit statements of account, 5 declared incomplete

 

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

A total of 79 candidates from the 2019 National General Election (NGE) are in trouble with section 69 of the Electoral Act 2018.

74 did not submit their statements of account explaining donations they received during campaign and their expenditures. Five candidates submitted their statements before the July-20 deadline but were declared by the electoral office as ‘incomplete’.

Incomplete statements, according to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC), is the same as not having submitted, because the candidates are required to re-submit their statements.

According to SIEC Commissioner and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Mr Mose Saitala in a Press Statement yesterday, there are no contact details for these five candidates and so it has been difficult to contact them to correct and complete their statements of account.

“By way of this statement I am requesting the following candidates Tommy Tagili (North Malaita Constituency), Christopher R Taluu (North Guadalcanal), Allen K Tavake (Gao/Bugotu), Heinz Koiga (South Guadalcanal), and Stephen Roni (South New Georgia) to quickly contact the Electoral Office so we can help you to correct your statement of account,” said CEO Saitala.

“One more candidate filed his statement of account on 21 July (late by one day) bringing the total of those who had filed their statements of account to 252.

“By 4.30pm on Saturday, 2019, only 251 candidates successfully submitted their statements of account.

“The final number of candidates who contested election in the 50 constituencies during the 2019 General Election was 331.

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“This means that as of today [yesterday], 24th July, 74 candidates have still yet to file their statements of account. This brings a total of 79 candidates who have yet to file and/or complete their statements of account.”

The Electoral Commission at its meeting held on Monday this week, July 22, noted and expressed appreciation to those candidates who have complied with section 69 of the Electoral Act.

Based on their declaration, no candidate had spent more than the ceiling of $500,000 during their campaign and no candidate received any donation from a foreigner or a private company with a shareholder who is a foreigner on which the Commission was also happy to see that.

According to SIEC’s Statement, the Commission also decided that the Chief Electoral Officer refers all the candidates who failed to file or complete their statement of account to the Police for investigation and possible prosecution.

“It is important to remind the 74 candidates who failed to submit their statements of account and to the five candidates who failed to satisfactorily complete their statements of account to please do so at the earliest because there is a potential maximum penalty of $100 for each day the statement of account is NOT filed,” CEO Saitala strongly warns.

“It is only when a candidate has satisfactorily filed his/her statement of account that he or she will be exonerated from his/her obligation under section 69 of the Electoral Act 2018.”

Amongst campaign statements earlier revealed by SIEC to be handed in were from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and MP for Hograno Kia/Havulei, Jeremiah Manele, Minister for Traditional Governance and MP for Gao/Bugotu, Samuel Manaetoáli, MP for Savo/Russell, Dickson Mua, and MP for West New Georgia Vona Vona, Silas Tausinga.

Campaign Statements of Account submitted earlier included non-winning candidates from the country’s constituencies.

With the understanding that citizens have been looking forward to the update of candidates submitting in their “Statements of Account’ since after the due date last Saturday, CEO Saitala thanks everyone for their patience.

“We have rechecked and rechecked and I am now confident that our record is absolutely correct,” said CEO Saitala.

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